Republican voters in California are gravitating toward presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, substantially expanding his support in the Golden State to give him a 42-19 percent lead over his closest rival, Rick Santorum, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll
Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are a distant third and fourth, according to pollsters, who said Romney's support has risen 15 points since a November USC/Times poll, when the now-departed Herman Cain was his closest competitor.
However, the Times noted “a palpable lack of enthusiasm for the Republican field. Half of GOP voters said they wished other candidates were running for president.”
Barbara Foley, a 73-year-old Republican, told the Times she would prefer former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, or Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. She explained that she employed the process of elimination to make her decision, telling the Times that Santorum is too socially conservative, Gingrich is smart but a "loose cannon," and Paul — "well, I just think he's nuttier than a fruitcake."
"I vote the lesser of two evils, unfortunately," said Foley, who added that she deeply disapproves of President Barack Obama, especially his healthcare law, and she “fears the nation has grown increasingly socialist under his watch,” the Times reported.
"Mitt Romney is the lesser of the evils," Foley told the Times.
The poll, conducted for the Times and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, comes less than three months before California its primary, a late contest that has loomed as potentially important as the GOP nomination battle continues.
The Times concluded: Although Romney appears headed to a romp on June 5, when the pool of voters will be limited to registered Republicans, his prospects against Obama in the fall remain dim, the poll found. Obama led Romney by 21 points and the other candidates by even more — Paul by 28 points, Santorum by 29 and Gingrich by 32.”
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